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Past Exhibitions


Other Past Exhibitions

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket
Big Data - Telling Human Stories Through Numbers
Dreams Lived, Dreams Shattered
Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s
A Queer History of Fashion

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""Wood Carlson Co., tailcoat, black wool, 1935, USA, gift of Kay Kerr Uebel, 89.65.9
Gown, metallic, silk, circa 1935, USA, gift of Mrs. Jessie L. Hill, 93.71.12

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s 

Special Exhibitions Gallery
February 7 - April 19, 2014
Online Exhibition

Despite a dire financial and political environment, the 1930s was a period of great stylistic achievement and technical innovation in design. In contrast to the preceding Edwardian era - in which stiff, structured clothes dominated high fashion – 1930s garments were softer, minimally ornamented, elegantly proportioned, and reflected the streamlined art moderne aesthetic. Presenting both men’s and women’s fashions, Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s celebrates some of the most innovative and beautifully designed clothing made in the twentieth century.

Elegance in an Age of Crisis revealed the grand transformation that took place in women’s and men’s fashion. A synthesis of cutting-edge technology and the finest hand-craftsmanship was necessary to forge a truly modern aesthetic in clothing. Significant advances in dressmaking and tailoring techniques helped achieve truly “modern” clothing, one that allowed for movement and highlighted the “natural,” well-proportioned, and classically idealized body. Technical innovations in textile production transformed what was possible for designers: wider width fabrics, for example, gave dressmakers a means to rethink and refine draping techniques, while featherweight textiles lent garments new suppleness and flexibility. Even the look and feel of many sports clothes, such as swimwear, underwent profound change due to the creation of new synthetic materials.

The look of the 1930s was an international phenomenon. Menswear tailoring innovations in London and Naples paralleled breakthroughs in haute couture draping in Paris as well as custom design in New York, Havana, and Shanghai. Hollywood, too, played a role in defining and popularizing this glamorous new look. Clothing made in these cities for clients from the United States, Latin American, Europe, and Asia is on view in the exhibition.

This exhibition was organized by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, and G. Bruce Boyer, leading menswear writer and editor. A publication accompanies the exhibition, edited by exhibition curator Patricia Mears and published by Yale University Press.

Learn more on the exhibition page.

""Schott, Perfecto jacket, black leather, circa 1980, USA. Museum purchase, P89.29.1 © Eileen Costa Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket
Gallery FIT
March 4 - April 5, 2014
Online Exhibition

Beyond Rebellion: Fashioning the Biker Jacket examined high fashion interpretations of the black leather motorcycle jacket. Organized by graduate students in FIT’s Fashion and Textile Studies program, the exhibition explores the many forms this utilitarian garment has taken, from countercultural wardrobe staple to avant-garde statement piece. The exhibition features garments from labels such as Comme des Garcons, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rick Owens, and Gianni Versace, emphasizing the biker jacket's continuing influence on high fashion. 

"" Big Data – Telling Human Stories Through Numbers
FIT Media Club
Gallery FIT
January 25 - February 8, 2014

Big Data – Telling Human Stories Through Numbers explored the world of data, information, and numbers through artistic vision. The works included were a response to the changing world of the Information Age that we are living in. Instead of using the power of information for political or business-oriented goals, designers and artists in this exhibition used results of their quantitative research to tell the their stories.

The Media Design Club at FIT (MDC) was established in 2009 by Prof. C. J. Yeh from the Communication Design Department. It brings together students interested in digital media together outside of the traditional classroom setting. Currently, MDC has over 200 members from Communication Design (AAS), Graphic Design (BFA), Advertising Design (BFA), Computer Graphics (BFA), and Illustration (AAS) programs. It is one of the most active student clubs at FIT.

""Butch Chanel, Wigstock, NYC, 1992. Photograph by Michael James O'Brien c.2013. A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk 
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 13, 2013 - January 4, 2014

Visit the Exhibition Website
See the exhibition Facebook page.

From Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, many of the greatest fashion designers of the past century have been gay. Indeed, it is widely believed that most male fashion designers are gay.  Is this just a stereotype? Or do gay men really have a special relationship with fashion? To what extent have lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people also made significant contributions to fashion? Fashion and style have played an important role within the LGBTQ (lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer) community, both pre- and post-Stonewall, and even as early as the eighteenth century. Yet surprisingly little has been researched about high fashion as a site of gay cultural production.  

A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk sought to explore the “gayness” or “queerness” of fashion by drawing attention to the historic presence of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender and other “queer” people in the fashion system. The exhibition also looked at the creativity and resistance to oppression expressed by LGBTQ subcultural styles.  


Curated by Fred Dennis, senior curator of costume, and Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, with exhibition design by award-winning architect Joel Sanders, the exhibition featured approximately 100 ensembles spanning more than a century of fashion. Organized in roughly chronological order, the exhibition explored the history of modern fashion through the lens of gay and lesbian life and culture, addressing subjects including androgyny, dandyism, idealizing and transgressive aesthetic styles, and the influence of subcultural and street styles, including drag, leather, and uniforms.

The exhibition was accompanied by a symposium (November 8-9, 2013) and a scholarly, multi-author book published by Yale University Press, as well as a free public lecture series, exhibition tours, and an educational website, with the goal of helping to foster a climate of inclusion for those who have often been marginalized due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gendered expression. The exhibition and programs were supported by The Diversity Council of FIT. Special thanks to the Advisory Committee.

Read more about the exhibition.

"" Dreams Lived, Dreams Shattered: MLK, JFK 50 years later
Work of MFA Illustration Students and Faculty
Gallery FIT
November 9 - December 7, 2013

Students and faculty of the MFA in Illustration program at FIT visually reflect on the 50th anniversary of two seminal events in American History.

Norman Norell Norman Norell, dress, red wool crepe and satin, 1962, USA, gift of Claudia Halley. RetroSpective
Fashion and Textile History Gallery
May 22 - November 16, 2013
Visit the exhibition page or the online exhibition for more info and images.

RetroSpective explored fashion’s relationship with its own history. The speed of the fashion cycle is faster than ever, and yet, in the constant drive for newness, the past is often used as a point of reference. Many contemporary designers embrace looking back at fashion history as a fundamental part of the design process. In doing so, they create inventive and modern re-interpretations of everything from crinolines to “flapper” dresses. As cutting-edge designer Yohji Yamamoto once said, “Going to the future means you have to use your past.”

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